Deborah once came to me in tears and said, “I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong. I say to my partner Dan that I want to tell him something very important. I begin to tell him how I feel about something he did that hurt me. He then butts in, without allowing me to finish what I’m saying and says to me that I’m wrong for feeling the way I do.”
This is something most of us have faced such ignorance in a relationship once or more than once. What so many of us long for more than anything is to be noticed and validated. We want to be our real selves and for someone to see us in all our glory and say, “I love you just the way you are.”
We want someone who can hear our pain, wipe our tears when we’re sad, and rejoice for us when things are going well.
We expect the love of our life to get us
No one wants to feel they have to justify how they feel to the one they love.
We expect the person we love the most to consider our opinion as valid. Subconsciously we tell ourselves, that they should have our back and not make us feel crazy when we have an outlandish idea.
The crazy thing is, even though most of us, deep down, want to be with someone who notices and believes in us, how many of us have the guts to really find out what’s important to us, express this idea to ourselves and then be able to confidently express this to the one we love.
But, ignorance in a relationship, whether done knowingly or unknowingly, can kill our expectations from the love of our lives permanently.
How our insecurities get in our way of being understood
After working with Deborah and Dan for a while I got to see how the nature of their dynamic meant that they couldn’t have conversations where each could fully express themselves and be heard.
The more Deborah expressed feelings of insecurity related to Dan, the more Dan’s insecurity button is fired up. The more this button got fired up, the more defensive he became, and so on. The more defensive he became, the more Deborah felt unheard and unimportant.
The more unimportant she felt, the more she withdrew and stopped sharing because she saw no point in trying anymore. This dynamic is fueled by insecurities on both sides and the need to be seen and understood, but also ignites the fear of being seen and understood.
For those of us looking for love, how many of us feel we can truly be vulnerable enough to share ourselves with someone else, fearlessly, without concerns of being judged or criticized.
On one hand, we look for the best ways to deal with ignorance in a relationship since the same ignorance in a relationship nearly kills us. Yet, on the other hand, we fear to express ourselves fully because we worry about being judged or criticized.
Wanting to be noticed, being able to express yourself clearly, and having your message received is one of the greatest challenges I find with many of my clients both individuals looking for love and those already in a relationship.
What gets in the way of us being seen and understood by the love of our life?
The answer is fear. Fear of being truly seen.
For so many, the fear of being really seen and acknowledged is also associated with being hurt, rejected and even misunderstood. Fear that the person we love most in this world is going against what is most important to us, standing up for us, challenging us.
So many of us have been hurt by the people who were closest to us during our childhood. We were either ignored and neglected or were given negative attention. We needed our friends or simply tried substance drugs to rid themselves of the pain. Few considered the consumption of substance drugs helped with healing the pain of not being noticed by the one you love.
And we end up fighting the dilemma of wanting to be seen by our partner to also be the thing that absolutely terrifies us.
For those of us who didn’t receive positive attention during our formative years, we sometimes only associate being noticed with negativity. There is something built into each of us that wants to receive love and attention. However, this causes a dilemma and fear of facing ignorance in a relationship.
We want to be noticed, but due to the associated fear, we pull back or we fight for it.
This conundrum creates a double-bind and gets in the way of our being able to move forward in so many areas of our life. It most deeply impacts our romantic relationship. So, the question is how do you overcome ignorance in a relationship?
We need to choose between wanting to be seen and overcoming our fear
Probably, this is one of the best ways to deal with ignorance in a relationship.
When we can’t decide whether we want to be seen or not, the way that we express ourselves becomes unclear. As a consequence, our partner misunderstands us. This creates more frustration, we feel our partner just doesn’t care about us and we end up experiencing ignorance in a relationship.
The ignorance from our partner causes pain and we end searching negative ways like, ‘how do I get over the pain of rejection?’, from the internet to get back at our partner by all means possible.
This cycle, then unravels and spins out into a dynamic where we accuse our partner of not getting us. Rather than taking responsibility for how we feel, what we want to express and how we want to be understood, we lash out at our partners wrongfully for not figuring us out.
We tell ourselves, ”If they really loved me, they would understand me better. If they were really the right one, they would get me.”
Sadly, this isn’t true.
By unhooking ourselves from the dilemma of wanting to be seen and at the same time being afraid of being seen, we can then stand firm and allow ourselves to receive the kind of attention we most crave and deserve from our partner.